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Infections up in family homes as lockdown is relaxed

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Price: Covid-19 has cost €400m so far, said HSE chief Paul Reid

Price: Covid-19 has cost €400m so far, said HSE chief Paul Reid

Photocall Ireland

Price: Covid-19 has cost €400m so far, said HSE chief Paul Reid

The number of people who are picking up the coronavirus in their own home and among extended family is on the rise.

It comes as people mingle more in the community and bring the virus back with them.

New figures yesterday showed infection at a low level with three more dying from the virus, bringing the toll to 1,705.

Another 13 people were newly diagnosed with the infection, leaving the total number of infections here at 25,250.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "The Covid-19 virus will continue to impact on the way we move about our daily lives for the foreseeable future; however, we have already witnessed how our collective action can control the spread of the virus.

"By continuing to work together, implementing our new behaviours, we can continue to limit the spread of the disease."

Meanwhile, one in five of the 408 patients worst affected by Covid-19 who were admitted to intensive care so far has died, a leading consultant said.

Dr Catherine Motherway, an intensive care consultant in Limerick, extended her sympathy to the bereaved and said she and her colleagues were worried about how hospitals would cope this winter.

The death rate of 20pc was good by international standards, she told a HSE briefing yesterday.

Around 87pc of people admitted to intensive care with the virus had underlying conditions like heart disease and the mean age was 60.

However, there were concerns about the impact of surges in infection in the winter and there was a need for more capacity and trained staff, she added.

"We continue to care for 28 patients this morning," she said.

She paid tribute to the public for following public health advice, saying many lives were saved as a result of the national response.

When Covid-19 first hit earlier this year hospitals had just 257 intensive care beds - half the European norm.

More than 100 additional critical care beds were created across Ireland and at its peak they looked after 160 patients who were seriously ill from the virus.

All patients ill with the virus who needed intensive care were treated and staff were trained to administer the high level care.

However, she stressed: "We need to double our intensive care capacity. There has to be an increase in isolation facilities and a speeding up of plans going forward."

Intensive care units should not be operating at more than 70pc capacity but the needs of non Covid-19 patients are also pressing.

HSE chief Paul Reid said the cost of Covid-19 measures in the health service so far had been around €400m.

It could rise to €1.8bn at the end of 2020. He said the HSE's winter plan would need to provide for extra capacity in hospitals. They should be running at no more than 80pc but that was already exceeded, he added.

The positivity rate for people tested for Covid-19 over the past seven days to June 11 was 0.8pc, which meant that 99pc were free of the virus.

As of yesterday there were 27 people in intensive care, a fall of 88pc on the April peak, with 79 confirmed hospital cases, a 91pc drop on the 879 peak on April 13. The number of newly diagnosed cases at 122 in the seven days to June 11 is down by 64pc on the peak.

It looks increasingly inevitable the State will have to provide free face masks to households or targeted groups as the Department of Health steps up it campaign to get more people to wear them on public transport and in shops.

People with underlying health conditions and older age groups need more expensive medical masks.

Irish Independent